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Monday, December 13, 2010

Timber Stand Improvement (Blog Eleven)

With the Christmas Holidays approaching and time off from school, I have three outdoor related objectives: punch that second Virginia fall turkey hunting tag, do some late season muzzleloader hunting with the goal of killing one more doe for the freezer, and conduct some TSI (timber stand improvement) on the 38 acres where we live.

One of the most satisfying wintertime outdoor activities that anyone - whether they are sportsmen, bird watchers, or landowners - can do is improve the wildlife habitat on the land they live on.  This is true whether the individual owns just a backyard lot or hundreds of acres.

Last winter, for example, Elaine and I cut some cedar trees and turned them into brush piles where songbirds, rabbits, and other creatures could find some shelter from the wind and cold.  The oaks and hickories where the cedars were levelled thus had more room to grow and in the future should produce more acorns and nuts.

When you are conducting TSI, not all seemingly worthless trees should be cut.  For instance, we like to leave large, standing dead trees so that woodpeckers, tufted titmice, and other cavity nesting birds can benefit.  It is also a good idea to make sure beforehand the exact species a tree is before you remove it.  This past winter, I did not have time to remove a small stand of nondescript trees that grow on the edge of our food plot.  I was glad this May that I had not removed the stand as the trees turned out to be mulberries, which, of course, produce a very tasty berry for wildlife and humans.

One of my projects this month is to thin a small grove of dogwoods that grow in the hollow adjacent to our house.  In the past, I was reluctant to cut them because dogwood berries are eaten by many animals.  But by removing several trees, the survivors will be able to expand their crowns so that fewer trees will produce more soft mast than many trees did.

Look for similar opportunities on your land this month.

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